Practices and Resources for Observing Lent

psalm51a

Here are three observations on practicing LENT with some resources for exploring each area.

1. Spiritual Practices for Lent

(from Ruth Haley Barton) The purpose for engaging in Lenten disciplines is that we would become more finely attuned to our longing for God so we can seek him with all our hearts. Disciplines of fasting and other kinds of abstinence help us face the hold our sin patterns have on us so we can somehow let go of our attachment to anything that is not God. As we acknowledge the grip our attachments have on us, we can shape our Lenten season around practices uniquely suited to the invitations that emerge in the context of this deeper self-knowledge. As we embark upon this Lenten season, we can ask, “What practices will help me return to the Lord during these set-apart days?”

  • How will I practice self-examination and confession in order to facilitate the truth in my inward being that God desires? (Psalm 51: 6)
  • How will I give? (Matt. 6:2,3)
  • How will I pray? (Matt. 6:5-13)
  • Who do I need to forgive and from whom do I need to seek forgiveness? (Matt. 6:14,15)
  • How will I fast? What do I need to abstain from in order to create more space for God? (Matt. 6:16-18)
  • What earthly treasures am I attached to and how will I “let go” in order to invest In God’s kingdom? (Matt. 6:19-21)
  • How will I be reconciled to God and how will I engage in the ministry of reconciliation this season? (II Cor. 5)
  • How will I practice hiddenness as I order my life more intentionally around these disciplines? (Matt. 6:1, 5, 16-17)

Our church also uses these texts as the script to guide our Ash Wednesday service.  You can download our worship guide.

You can find more resources at out LENT church season page.

2. Meditating on Sin for Lent

(from Isaac Wardell) Ministers in the early Church of various sorts—but especially including what are called “the Desert Fathers”—spoke to people about their wrestlings with faith and sin. In the fourth century, a man named Evagrius Ponticus came up with a list of the sins, or evil thoughts, that he heard over and over again as he talked with people. He catalogued them into a useful list, and this list over time became what is known as “the seven deadly sins.” At Trinity Church, we do not divide sins into different levels of seriousness. We believe that any sin makes us a law-breaker. As the Bible teaches in James, chapter 2: For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it.  But this Lent our congregation is going to use the old list of the seven deadly sins as a jumping-off point for the contemplation of our lives and our obedience.

3. Reading Scripture for Lent

The season of Lent begins with Ash Wednesday which is 40 days (not counting Sundays) back from Easter.  Scripture itself is filled with seasons of 40.  Moses spent forty days on Mount Sinai when he was given the Ten Commandments by God. Moses and the Israelites spent 40 years wandering in the wilderness.  Jesus spent 40 days in the desert during which He fasted, overcame the temptations of Satan, and prepared for His public ministry.  In all of these seasons the word of God provided power and sustenance.  The season of Lent should also be sustained by daily time spent in the word of God. Here are a few devotionals which provide scripture readings for the forty days of Lent.

  • HERE is a lenten guide from Cov Pres Chicago with 40 days of scripture readings surveying salvation history.
  • HERE is a reading guide from West End Pres in Richmond.

2 thoughts on “Practices and Resources for Observing Lent

  1. Thanks for introducing folks to the West End Presbyterian Church Lenten Readings. If you’d like to link folks to material we are using for 2015, you can find it at www. lentreading.wordpress.com

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